There is no greater feeling then to yell “Shark On!” Salmon Shark Fishing in Alaska is an experience you will never forget. You may forget what the coastline looked like, or the name of the small town just outside of the fishing grounds (Elfin Cove), and you may even forget your Charter Boat Captain's name, but you will never forget the feeling of an 8ft Salmon Shark ripping the line from your reel. Fishing in Alaska for Salmon Sharks is an experience everyone should have, but very few people ever do. Check out some of our Amazing Salmon Shark Photos and the people who have experienced it.
For the most part, July thru August seems to be the best season to fish for Alaskan salmon sharks, but each year the season varies slightly depending on when the Salmon arrive. Based on the number of Salmon also varies when the quantity of sharks that show up. The sharks follow the salmon runs on their way to inland waters for spawning. When the salmon start stacking up out in the Icy Straights, and then begin making their way for the rivers is when shark fishing is at its best.
Live Bait for Salmon Sharks: Other than a human hand or foot, we often fish for Salmon Sharks with whole Salmon, or chunks of salmon, they also seem to feed well on freshly caught herring. We don’t use live bait just fresh bait. We have used a live pink salmon before with out much success; usually we just catch the salmon, kill them and then filet the salmon into strips or chunks to get the scent and blood in the water. The chumming that you have seen in the movie Jaws, it is not quite like that, but similar.
Artificial Bait for Salmon Sharks: Black Rock Charters has not used any artificial bait to catch salmon sharks; the sharks tend to prefer the fresh meat. The blood and scent is vital for successful salmon shark fishing.
Rods: We use the same rods for halibut fishing that we use for Salmon Shark fishing; which are 40 – 60 Pound G-loomis rods. These rods stand up to the tremendous pressure applied during the early stages of a shark fight, but have the flex and feel so you are always in control.
Reels: We use 2 speed Avet reels; they are aluminum cast frame, and we run 80 lb spider wire as our main line When the sharks hit the bait and start tearing out line these reels are ready for them. I can just hear the spin of the drag now as that monster Salmon Shark takes the bait, jumps though the air and starts running. SHARK ON!
Leaders: These leaders take special attention and diligent time to assemble. We start with 5 feet of 250 pound steel cable, crimped to a swivel. Then from the swivel we run 20 feet of 250 pound test mono-filament line and it is crimped to the swivel attached to the steel cable. We then use a knot called the Bimini Twist to attach out 250 pound mono-filament line to our 80 pound spectra line. This way we can wind on the mono all the way up to our steel leader. This set-up is ready for action!
Hooks: We use 16/0 and 20/0 circle hooks or very large J-hooks depending on the bait we are using. Whatever hooks you use make sure they are very hard and strong hooks. We have had many large hooks straighten out on us before getting the fish to the boat. No matter what hook you select, make sure you have a very heavy gauged hook to handle the load of these fish! Of course Black Rock Charters already has the right hooks in place. Are you ready to Book your Alaskan Fishing Adventure?
There are several techniques on catching these monster Alaska salmon sharks. The traditional technique is heading out to the Alaskan salmon shark fishing grounds with lots of chum. Start by spreading the chum in the area of water that you want to fish. For our chum we use salmon and herring, we also mix in some salmon and herring oil scents that you can buy at most fishing tackle stores. We will try to make a 5 gal bucket of chum while heading out to the salmon shark fishing grounds.
Once we get to where we think the Salmon Shark are feeding, we will start looking for them on the surface either fining or thrashing. We then get our chum bags set out in the water attached to the boat and drift thru certain areas that the sharks work over for food. Then we will cast out 2 -3 rods with the baits on them and let them drift out behind the boat with no weight on them. We usually will drift a mile or so and track it with our GPS, then bring in the gear, run back up to the start of our drift and go over our chum line of scent and do it again in hopes that the sharks are moving along that chum line we just put out there.
Another way we have done it is by trolling for them, we will attach whole pink salmon to our lines and drop two down on a down rigger anywhere from the surface to 100 ft. and then troll one whole salmon off the back along the surface. We will troll around 2 – 3 knots and cover a lot of ground this way. Usually still have a chum bag dragging thru the water as well.
A third option, is also drifting for the salmon sharks as described above, but weight your lines and send them down to various depths and jig occasionally for them as well. All these techniques work very well, and it depends on the conditions of the water and currents that dictate the method of fishing that day.
One very memorable story of catching the largest Salmon Shark in the Black Rock Charters record book, (just over 8ft) was a day where we had great action early on. We had sharks right next to the boat chasing our baits down and swarming around the chum bags. It was an awesome site, to see the Salmon Shark right next to the boat, sent a chill down your spine in excitement.
We had hooked a couple of Alaska salmon sharks during the feeding frenzy but sometimes they are very difficult to land and we lost every one that had taken our bait. The bite slowed down and the salmon sharks disappeared, we continued to drift with our lines soaking for another 2 hours with no action or sign of salmon sharks. I got the boat to the end of the drift that I wanted to fish and I started it up and turned the boat around to drive back up where we had started and had all the earlier action. I usually reel in the gear because I run a little faster to get back to the start of the drift. Well for some reason I just decided to leave the back rod out (laziness perhaps) behind the boat with a whole salmon attached to it and I was driving along about 7 – 8 knots with the salmon just skipping along the surface behind the boat as we motored our way back.
We had not been driving very long when I looked back and I saw a huge dorsal fin and tail out of the water charging straight for our bait. I yelled out to the fisherman “shark!” Just as it was about to grab the fish, I slowed the boat a little bit, but we were still moving pretty quickly. The shark thrashed behind the salmon and swiped it right off the surface as I was grabbing the rod out of the holder.
It started peeling line out very fast and was on his way out to sea. Then just as quickly as he had appeared to grab the bait, he let go and the bait still attached to the hook/line popped up and started skipping along the surface again. We were all sick to our stomachs that we just lost a monster. However, what kind of a fishing story would that be if it ended there.
Suddenly, the Alaska salmon shark was back for a second helping of the bait. This time he wasn’t messing around as he launched half his body out of the water, with mouth wide open he nailed the bait. This time I free spooled for 5 seconds while it was racing away and then I locked up the reel and set the hook on him and shark versus human battle was on!
The shark ran out so much line so fast, that I was fortunate the boat was already moving as I handed off the roa to the angler and turned the boat on the shark to keep up. and so we would not get spooled. We landed the mighty shark an hour later after a heart pounding adventure, the fish would run and we all took turns reeling in the monster. Certainly a great way to end a very exciting day, this salmon shark at just over 8 feet is still the BRC record. Do you want to come and beet the salmon shark record? Book your Alaska Salmon Shark trip today!
That was Shark fishing at its best; you never know what, where, when or how the Alaska salmon shark will strike, you just have to always be ready! It’s a battle you won’t forget!
Salmon sharks are found in the northern and eastern Pacific around Japan, Korea and over to Alaska. Their range stretches from the Bering Strait to southern California, and they may even venture to Baja California and Mexico. Alaska Salmon frequently gather at the mouth of a river before swimming upstream to spawn. This massive accumulation of salmon regularly attracts large numbers of salmon sharks into regions of North America.
A few little known facts about the salmon sharks:
Once you go on your Salmon Shark Charter, and catch your person record shark, what do you do with all the meat? Well for starters. Shark meat to fish is what filet mignon is to the cow. The meat is tender and rarely described as flaky. You can cut it with a knife but it melts in your mouth. Simple salt and pepper the filet, and cook it over a grill is perfect for Salmon Shark. However, if you want something a little fancier, here are a few of our more popular recipes.
The salmon shark is a commonly found to live both in coastal and oceanic regions, preferring cool, northern waters. Like several other species from the Lamnidae family, they can maintain their body temperature with the help of a vascular net (rete mirabilis) which maintains the water temperature around their bodies. They swim both underneath the water's surface and in depths of up to 500 feet. Salmon Sharks are found by themselves or in schools and have been known to gather together when feeding.
Salmon sharks have a spinal-shaped, lightly bulbous body with conspicuously large gill slits and a conical snout. The first dorsal fin is very high and erect, originating just over or slightly behind the pectoral insertions. Their second dorsal fin is minute and begins just about over the beginning of the anal fin. They have strong keels on the caudal peduncle, with a secondary keel on the caudal base, and a crescent-shaped dorsal fin. Salmon sharks have a dark gray back and a white belly. The coloring changes on the sides and is marked by dark spots and blotches. The first dorsal fin is dark up to its free rear tip.
We owe a great deal of thanks to sharkinfo.ch for some of their valuable data included in this post.
Click to view more of our Alaska Salmon Shark Pictures